Schumer on Kagan: ‘We Know Plenty About Her’; ‘Modest and Moderate’ Judicial Philosophy

Jun 29, 2010 2:24pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Despite a concern voiced by Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., that Elena Kagan’s judicial philosophy “is almost invisible to us,” Sen. Chuck Schumer – another key Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee – said today that senators already know enough about Kagan to make a judgment about her nomination to the Supreme Court. “I love Herb Kohl, but I disagree with him,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said today on ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line.” I think we know plenty about her. Having a 170-some-odd-thousand pages of her as solicitor general, countless articles and discussions — sometimes you learn almost as much about somebody when they’re not issuing decisions as a judge, sometimes even more than when they are. And we have a voluminous record. So Herb may be referring to the fact that she doesn’t have a judicial record, but we’ve got plenty of stuff about her.”

Schumer described Kagan’s judicial philosophy as “modest and moderate.” “She’s not one of these people who believes that the law ought to be used to dramatically pull the nation in one direction or another. She’s a lawyer’s lawyer, and that’s been outlined in her philosophy all along,” he said. With Republicans targeting Kagan’s decision to exclude military recruiters from the Harvard Law School’s office of career services, Schumer countered that her handling of the issue showed an ability to “threat the needle quite well.” “This is overblown,” he said. “Again, I think it shows what Elena Kagan is — she had her beliefs and her philosophy here, but she wasn’t gonna let it get in the way. You know, she wasn’t gonna be an ideologue about it, and she continued to allow military recruiting in a way that substantially didn’t stop military recruiting at Harvard, even during the time before the decision was rendered.” Schumer also bemoaned the apparent inability for Supreme Court nominees to win overwhelming – much less unanimous – Senate confirmation these days. Of such days, he said, “They’re temporarily gone. I wish they’d come back. You know, again, I think that Democratic presidents have tended to nominate more moderate people, but we’re not getting very much support from Republicans. But you know, I consider the [Sonia] Sotomayor vote — given the temper of the times — pretty successful, where you had, I think, between five and 10 — I don’t remember the exact number — of Republicans senators vote for her. That was pretty good.” Meanwhile, on the financial regulatory reform bill, Schumer acknowledged that Senate leaders don’t think they have the 60 votes they need right now to approve the measure, as they’d thought they could do this week. “I do expect it will be approved. The death of Sen. [Robert] Byrd does throw a little bit of a crimp in things,” Schumer said. “We’re counting the votes right now, and obviously, I believe it will depend on whether the handful of Republicans who went along before continue to go along. There’s been some talk that a few of them didn’t like the way of paying for this, and we’ll see what happens — if that’s enough to push them to vote ‘no.’ There’s nothing definitive yet.” Watch the full interview with Sen. Chuck Schumer HERE. For our “Post Politics” segment, we checked in with Robert Barnes of The Washington Post about the Kagan hearings so far, plus the emotional end of the current Supreme Court session. Watch that portion of “Top Line” HERE.

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